Big West End annexation planned; FedEx eyes portion of land

2012-12-13T16:29:00Z 2013-04-09T07:31:06Z Big West End annexation planned; FedEx eyes portion of landBy ED KEMMICK ekemmick@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

The city of Billings will soon consider a request to annex 97 acres of West End land, which would be the biggest annexation since 2008.

The land is on Hesper Road just west of Gabel Road. FedEx Ground Package Systems Inc. reportedly plans to build a transfer center on part of the property.

News of the development went out to city officials and City Council members Tuesday in an email from Nicole Cromwell, the city's zoning coordinator. Attached to her email was a letter from Dowl HKM, a civil engineering and related services firm with offices in six states, including one in Billings.

That letter says the owner of the land, Industrial Planning Associates, will seek a zone change to controlled industrial on the property. The land is now zoned agriculture open space.

The letter from Dowl HKM says a petition to annex the land, divided into two tracts, will be submitted at the same time as the zoning request. The submissions  probably will take place in early January, Cromwell said.

The parcel that FedEx plans to build on is 87.3 acres, Dowl HKM says, while the second parcel has 10 acres, for which there are no development plans.

David Westrick, a spokesman for FedEx Ground in Pittsburgh, issued a brief statement when asked about the company's plans for the site: "FedEx Ground continuously evaluates opportunities that can enhance our ability to serve our customers but, as a matter of policy, we don’t have further information on specific proposals under consideration."

A call to Dowl HKM was not returned.

Cromwell said the 97-acre annexation would be the largest since the city annexed 114 acres for Lenhardt Square, on the 4400 block of King Avenue West, in 2008.

The land being eyed by FedEx Ground is just west of the TransTech Center, a business park on the east side of Gabel Road. Cromwell said plans for developing the farmland on the west side of Gabel is "the natural progression for the area."

In 2011, FedEx Freight opened a new shipping facility at 7107 Commercial Ave., south of Interstate 90 and east of the Zoo Drive exit.

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